All Book Reviews by Genre: Graphic Novels/Manga

Book Cover
Garcia, Kami
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After a car accident that killed her mother, Raven is living with her her new mom (her aunt) and foster sister Max, in New Orleans. In addition to losing her mother in the accident, Raven lost all of her memories. Adding to that, she can hear the thoughts and feelings of those around her. As she tries to remember who she was, Raven is making new friends and learning that what matters is who she is, and who she chooses to be going forward. That is, until her past catches up with her...

I'm not at all familiar with the Teen Titans but know enough to know that Raven's a popular character from that series. And I can see why! In this iteration, she immediately (albeit accidentally) puts mean girls in their place, and stands up for those being bullied, which I like. Memory loss may not be the most original way to begin an origin story, but its certainly an effective way to slowly introduce the audience to the character, and it was used to good effect here. The high school bits were just right - prom, foiled romance, mean girls - Garcia nails those elements. I just wish there had been a bit more to the story. I liked it, but it all felt a bit trite. Its a perfectly good origin story, but there's nothing new here. Just when it starts to get really interesting, it ends. I do hope there is a sequel planned.

For me, the thing that can really make-or-break a graphic novel is art, and the art in this is wonderful. The coloring was just right - its mostly purples, blacks, light blues and beige, and the muted palatte really sets and fit in with the overall tone. When a red character emerges, he really pops. Also, sometimes I find artwork to be confusing (especially in action sequences), but that was not at all the case here. In fact, this would be excellent graphic novel for those who are just starting out with the medium.

TLDR: A run of the mill but nonetheless entertaining origin story that will delight teenagers (and adults) who aren't sick of superheroes.

Overall, this is a really solid graphic novel for teens that I'll probably end up booktalking. 3 stars - it was pretty good!

Thanks to DC Ink and Netgalley for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Teen Titans: Raven will be released on 02 Jul, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Lumberjanes
Stevenson, Noelle
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Do you like magical creatures? Do you like actually well-executed pop-culture references? Do you like respectfully handled minority representation? Then the Lumberjanes series is definitely for you! It follows the adventures of five girls at a very unusual summer camp - Ripley, Jo, Mal, Molly, and April. Together, they encounter all manner of magical beasts, artifacts and locations, all while bonding with each other & following their motto of 'Friendship to the MAX!'

The series also has representation to offer, as I previously mentioned. With not only a main-cast lesbian couple, but a trans character,a nonbinary character, and several characters of color, it does well showing the diversity that exists in our world. "But, the art! What do you have to say about the art?" I hear you ask. Well, being a comic, it does have to convey much of its story through images. Through volumes, the art style does shift as different artists draw for Lumberjanes, but it consistently holds in a quality range of 'good' to 'great'. The main artist's style is a little unusual & a bit difficult to get used to, but it'll quickly grow on most readers. Overall, the Lumberjanes series is worth a read, even if it doesn't quite sound like your thing. It's charming and sure to delight pre-teen and teen readers.

Reviewer's Name: Olivia F.
The Marvels
Selznick, Brian
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book begins on a ship at sea with a boy named Billy Marvel. He survives a terrible shipwreck and later finds work in a London theatre. There his family lives for generations as brilliant actors--some who are the best kind of people, some who are awful people. All of the family are actors and love the stage and spotlight until young Leontes Marvel. He hates acting, misses his cues, and can’t remember his lines. His parents are ashamed and banish him from the stage. He decides that his destiny lies somewhere else so he runs away.

A century later, Joseph Jervis, another runaway, finds a place to stay with an uncle in London. Grumpy Uncle Albert and his strange but beautiful house lure Joseph on a search for clues. He begins to think that he might be related to the Marvels and begins an incredible adventure to find out who he truly is.

I really enjoyed this book. During the mystery, I felt like I was right alongside Joseph as he found clues to his mysterious past. I am happy that I figured out the mystery before Joseph did. The story had a very sad ending, but overall stayed pretty bright. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Brian Selznik’s other books, mysteries, or heartfelt books.

Reviewer's Name: Ben C
Maus II: A Survivor's Tale
Spiegelman, Art
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Maus II, the sequel/continuation to Maus, continues the story of Vladek Spiegelman told by his son in the form of a comic book. This book is amazing because, just like the first, it uses an animal metaphor to easily show the reader who is who in the story. Maus II takes a darker turn because Vladek is now in the depths of Aushwitz. I love these books and their creative outlook on the War and the Holocaust. No other historical book has made me this intrigued and want to continue reading.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Maus
Spiegelman, Art
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Maus 1 is a fascinating graphic history of the Holocaust and what Jewish people went through. Artist Art Spiegelman uses a variety of metaphors to depict his fathers experience as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. I found this book incredible because it uses an animal metaphor like Animal Farm to give a deeper insight into the story. This graphic history, much like a graphic novel, uses lights and darks, white and black, and special images to draw the reader in and help them understand the hardships Vladek Spiegelman faced. I loved this book and think it is a must read book for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Batman: Nightwalker
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In "Batman: Nightwalker", the early years of Bruce Wayne is retold in the style of a YA novel. Years after the death of his parents, Bruce struggles with loss, a sense of purpose, and the empire he has just inherited. When a string of mysterious crimes pop up in Gotham City, he soon gets tangled in the web.

First off, when I started this book, I didn't actually know much about the Batman universe, but it was easy to catch up -- especially considering it takes places years before Bruce's story actually begins as Batman. However, I have read Marie Lu's work before, so I had a general idea of what I was getting into. There are quite a few things I liked about this book: the plot was intricate and engaging, the protagonist was likable and interesting, and the twists and turns were really well executed. But, what kept me from giving this book five stars was the writing style. Normally, I really enjoy Marie Lu's writing style, but this book was different than her other work. The dialogue often felt really unnatural (especially when it came to Bruce and his friends). There were lots of lines that I thought were cheesy or robotic and that pulled me out of the story. Had the writing flowed a little more and the dialogue been more natural, I would've definitely given this book five stars. But, I would still recommend it because, despite the flaws, I really enjoyed it for its elaborate, high-paced plot.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Illegal
Colfer, Eoin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ebo is a boy from Ghana with a tough life. First his parents have died and he has to live with his alcoholic uncle. Then his sister left Africa for the nearly impossible journey to Europe, seeking a better life. Then Ebo’s brother does the same thing. Ebo refuses to be left behind, so he too embarks on the dangerous journey. He travels across his country, then through a desert, and then across something even more dangerous the ocean. Can Ebo find his brother and overcome the dangers of his journey?

With tons of adventures in this past and present story, readers will find out what it was like for refugees to try and get to Europe. Millions of people attempt the journey, but only some survive. People died of many things--sickness, dehydration, old age, drowning, and even getting killed by others are just some of problems they face.

This is a stand alone graphic novel with a great story and wonderful illustrations. It really showed me how hard it was to live in Ghana and how difficult it was to make the journey to Europe. Besides all the ways a person might die, they also could be sent back for not having the proper immigration paperwork.

This is one of my favorite books that I have read in the last few months. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of graphic novels, I would recommend reading it to gain insight about the migrant crisis around the world.

Reviewer's Name: Ben C.
Book Review: Illegal
Colfer, Eoin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ebo’s brother Kwame is missing. But Ebo knows where he’s gone: to find their sister. Life in Libya is hard, so Ebo and Kwame’s sister, Hannah, left and promised to send back money once she was installed in Europe with a new job and more money. But since she left, Ebo and Kwame have heard nothing from her. So when Ebo wakes up one morning and Kwame is gone, Ebo knows he must go after him. What follows is the harrowing, heartbreaking story of Ebo’s journey through dangerous cities, deserts, and the ocean.

Wow. Look, I cry a lot, and am no stranger to crying whilst reading. But this book made me sob. Like, uncontrollable tears running down my face. The refugee story is often a sad and intense one, and Ebo’s is certainly no exception. And then, when you think about Ebo’s story in the context of it being a real thing happening to real people in this world that we all share, and the US is actively turning away people in similar if not the same situation, well, its depressing. But importantly so. One must also consider the fact that thousands of children, thousands of people are dying, and no one seems to care. It’s a deeply sad book that will cause lots of introspection, but for me, that’s a good thing. This is an issue that needs more attention.

The stunning artwork added to the impact. Seeing Ebo’s expressions - the heartbreak, loss, and hope playing out across his face – made what was already an intense, powerful story all the more affecting. I loved pretty much everything about this book, and I hope you take the time to read it. 5 stars.

Thanks to Baker & Taylor, Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the free paper and electronic advance copies, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Illegal is available now – put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Sisters
Teigemeier, Raina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This graphic novel is about a girl named Raina who couldn't wait to be a big sister but once Amara is born she realizes that sisterhood isn't the sunshine-rainbow-cakewalk she thought it would be. This book explores the big sister little sister relationship like no other book has done before. Family love, life lessons, and learning what it truly is to be sisters. Amazing #1 New York Times bestselling, Eisner Award-winning book that's definitely worth taking the time to read.

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J
Avis Dolphin
Frieda Wishinsky
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is about the sinking of the Lusitania. If you’re looking for major action of the sinking, this isn’t the right book for you. It takes about two pages for the ship to be under water. The majority of the book talks about the main character’s mild drama and doesn’t focus on the ship itself. It’s a good book, but when I read it, I was disappointed in the lack of focus on the sinking since I knew little about the Lusitania. If you’re a fan of Titanic, you’ll be pleased to know there are quite a few references to the ship. Although the book is short, the characters are easy to enjoy. I personally liked the professor. The imagination can run wild because the author does a great job describing the book’s events. I recommend this book for ages 11+ because it is a more serious topic. I rate Avis Dolphin a 3-star because it was a good read, but I don’t think I’ll ever choose to read it again.

Reviewer's Name: Kaitlyn S
El Deafo
Bell, Cece
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is full of so much character it's so hard to stop reading, and it's also an easy book to read because it's a graphic novel.This book tells so much story of this girls problems she goes through, the pros and the cons.

Reviewer's Name: Delaney
Liu, Majorie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose this book because comics are a type of novel that I find interest in. This is a fantasy book that takes place where monsters and humans are divided after a war, and monsters who are caught by humans on the other side are used to be sold and experimented on. The main character, Maika, goes on the other side in search for hope of her mother. This is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys comics.

Reviewer's Name: Mona H
House of Women
Goldstein, Sophie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

What happened to the last expedition? Was the last expedition male? Where are the male of the local species? Is Jael the only male in the area? Has he created his own harem of native women, driving off the males with his pheromones?

I found this book on a must read list from NPR for 2017. It looked interesting and had a fascinating synopsis and review. I read it, liked the drawings and wanted to know who “Jael” was from the story. The last interaction between the women is about his criminal history. Aphra asks Sarai what it says and she responds with “It doesn’t matter.” However, I suspect it does, I think it had a direct impact on everything that occurred in the story. The author did a good job of “setting the hook” with that closure. Considering the dream fish sequence, I think it was intentional. As I reread the story a few more times, elements that seemed trivial began to come together and illuminate more of the story. I think it is worth a read, or several reads.

Reviewer's Name: Monique Baker
One Trick Pony
Hale, Nathan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this creative, futuristic graphic novel all technology has been stolen by a species known as the Pipers. When a young girl and two of her friends stumble into a hidden cache of robots, they become the targets of a wild chase. This book is exciting, unique, and includes a battle in outerspace! Recommended for grades 3-6.

Reviewer's Name: Jenny G.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur BFF Vol. 1
Montclare, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lunella Lafayette is smart. Really really smart -- so much so that her parents and middle school classmates struggle to understand her. And as a latent Inhuman exposed to the terragen mists she should start expressing some kind of superpowers any day now. Nothing that being telepathically linked to a giant red Tyrannosaurus won't fix, right? This all ages comic works as the author has genuine respect for the voice and age of its protagonist. While the circumstances of this pairing are a little fantastic, the friendship is very real. This book is a great introduction to the wonder of comics for younger readers, and a great reminder for older ones.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca O.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe!
North, Ryan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you have not been following the all-ages meta-fiction joy that is the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, this stand-alone is a great place to start.
Armed with her trademark pluck, empathy, and more references to the Marvel Comics Universe history than you can shake a stick at, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl faces her most formidable challenge yet: herself! (Well, sort
of.) Great fun from start to finish.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca O.
Library Wars: Love & War Volume 1
Yumi, Kiiro
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved this series. It's a really good imagination of censorship taken to the extreme. Kiiro Yumi really put thought into the character dynamic and the resolution of the series was highly satisfying. In a distant future, the Japanese government starts to ban books they find bad for society, so the libraries must put together a military force in order to defend the right to information. Kasahara has been dreaming of joining this task force since she was in high school and a mysterious member of this task force stopped the Media Betterment Committee from taking a book from her. She dubs this man her "prince" and is on a quest to find him through the Library Forces. The main romances in this story are sweet, but are subtle enough to not totally take over the storyline. I suggest you read this book if you like strong female characters, romance, and fight scenes. Nothing is really explicit in the book, though there are scenes where characters get injured.

Reviewer's Name: Totoro
Ghosts
Telgemeier, Raina
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I really liked this book! I have read a few of Raina's books before, so I found this one and said why don't i try it!

This book is about a girl and her sister, and they have to move to a new city. At this town their are rumors about ghosts.These ghosts live at one special place in the town called, Bahia de la luna. Maya Cat's sister really wants to meet one,though Cat DOES NOT. One year every year the people of that town have a celebration. Remembering their loved one that died. All of the ghosts celebrate with the people. Those people are able to speak to their loved ones and catch on with their beloveds. Maya seeing that they celebrate this makes her think, maybe these ghosts aren't so bad.

Reviewer's Name: Noa
Attack on Titan Vol. 1
Isayama, Hajime
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ever since I discovered this series, I've been hooked. The story is just so interesting and unique. I mean, how many books do you read about man-eating giants destroying society and teenage soldiers fighting them. Not only is the plot interesting, the characters are very well developed and their backstories are very interesting. That being said, there aren't too many backstories, because most of them are dead, but still, the main characters' backstories are really creative and awesome. I have read these books so many times and I am still hooked, even though it sometimes makes me mad (because the characters I like all keep dying). 10/10. Highly recommend if you are okay with violence, blood, guts, and disturbing images.

Reviewer's Name: Eremin
Octavia E. Butler's Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Duffy, Damian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Octavia Butler's Kindred broke so much ground both as a flawless time travel novel and visceral retelling of the slave experience. As an African-American author writing science fiction, her body of work changed the field while winning its top honors -- the Nebula and Hugo awards -- and the author herself was awarded a MacArthur genius grant. This graphic novel is an excellent introduction to her work, and is highly recommended for YA and adult readers alike.

Reviewer's Name: Rebecca

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